Warriors in hunt for first win of series
Moose Jaw vets plan to step up after Game 1 loss
John Down, Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, March 23, 2008
It could all be about an egg hunt today when the Calgary Hitmen and Moose Jaw Warriors square off in Game 2 of their first-round Western Hockey League playoff series.
Both teams admitted to laying a few during the Hitmen's 5-1 victory Friday and, if such is the case, there could be a whole lot more fur flying at the Pengrowth Saddledome on this Easter Sunday afternoon when the two attempt to hunt for perfection.
Now you may think it sounds strange that the Hitmen weren't entirely satisfied with their performance given the convincing decision, driven by two early strikes and three power-play goals, but they can see room for improvement.
Calgary's Brett Sonne tries to score on Moose Jaw Warriors goalie Joey Perricone during Game 1 on Friday.;The Warriors are looking to avenge their 5-1 loss to the Hitmen this afternoon at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald
"We had some breakdowns in our zone we'd like to clean up," said Hitmen head coach and general manager Kelly Kisio, prior to putting his Eastern Conference favourites through practice Saturday. "I don't think we change a lot, but I think we have to pay attention to detail a lot better than we did (Friday) . . . and we took some penalties, especially in the first period, that we shouldn't have taken."
The Hitmen were up 2-0 before the fourth minute, gained a 1-1 draw in the second period when the Warriors seemed to be getting a grip on their game, and then sealed the deal with two power-play goals during a five-penalty run by the visitors in the third period.
"We've kind of been off a little in the second period all season," added Kisio, "and Friday was no different. We have to make sure everyone's helping and going real well."
Assistant captain Ryan White expects the large-sized Warriors will be even more gung-ho this afternoon than they were Friday when their entire focus seemed to be on finishing checks, no matter the circumstance.
"They'll probably come out a little harder," said the 19-year-old first-line centre, who had a goal and an assist. "They're a good hockey team and I think we just got a couple of extra bounces.
"But at times they outplayed us . . . at the start of the second period for a bit
. . . so we have to get back to playing a full 60."
Moose Jaw coach Dave Hunchak, who put his team through a peppy practice Saturday morning at the Corral, has thrown down the gauntlet to his veterans. "Obviously we weren't pleased with the way we played," he said. "I think it was a combination of guys being overzealous and maybe too jacked to go and the brain turned off.
"There was nothing fancy with what Calgary did . . . we just need to be a better team. All of our guys have been challenged and it's the older guys who need to step up. For our team to be successful, we need to have the Holzapfels, Knackstedts and Basts of the world to be our leaders and do what they need to do."
Captain Riley Holzapfel scored the lone Warrior goal on a second-period power-play. Jordan Knackstedt, an 85-point man, was generally invisible. Jason Bast, a 34-goal scorer, had one shot.
"We have to be a lot more disciplined, smarter with what we do," said Holzapfel, a teammate of Calgary captain Karl Alzner's at the world juniors.
"I think emotions got the best of us (Friday) . . . when guys are running around and going out of their way to finish checks, it takes you out of the play or you can take a bad penalty.
"We have to be controlled and not overly excited. We have to be smarter with our checking game and us older guys have to lead by example."
The Hitmen, for the most part, gave back just as much as they received in the body-banging department against a team notorious for wearing down its foes physically.
"They're a big team and it's no secret what they're going to try and do, and that's play physical, because it's one of the main advantages of their hockey club," smiled T.J. Galiardi, who took a few good knocks. "We just have to stick with our own style.
"Whenever teams try to play physical, you just have to use your speed, move the puck faster than you're moving. Sometimes you can catch them out of position and get some odd-man rushes."
Once again, it's sounding like the hares will be trying to outsmart the foxes.
© The Calgary Herald 2008